herald

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Consumers ignore food footprint when shopping

Ireland’s dairy sector has a very low carbon footprint
Ireland’s dairy sector has a very low carbon footprint

Just one in 10 Irish consumers consider the carbon footprint when they buy food, a survey reveals.

An online survey of 2,000 Irish adults between the ages of 18 and 65, conducted in April, found that just 9pc of Irish consumers consider the impact of their food purchases on carbon emissions.

Yet an overwhelming majority of respondents (82pc) said that consumers needed to change how food was produced and consumed in order to stave off climate change.

While 92.2pc of consumers believe Ireland is worthy of its "world renowned reputation" for producing high-quality dairy products, almost 42pc said they believe the dairy sector has a negative impact on climate change.

However, close to 60pc of respondents said they believe the dairy sector can help consumers consume food in a more sustainable way.

Responsibility

The survey, commissioned by the European Milk Forum, was conducted in six markets, including Ireland, the North, France, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands as part of the non-profit organisation's campaign to promote dairy industry sustainability.

Despite the low percentage of Irish consumers who consider carbon emissions, the majority of Irish respondents said they believe it is up to consumers themselves to take responsibility for reducing emissions.

This contrasted with their European counterparts, who believe it is the responsibility of industry.

National Dairy Council chief executive Zoe Kavanagh said the Sustainable Dairy in Europe project is a "strategic action plan" that encourages dairy farmers to "produce dairy in a more sustainable way using new farming practices that reduce their impact on the environment".

However, she added that the Irish dairy sector has "one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally, primarily due to the unique grass-fed, family-based Irish farming system, which is extremely efficient".

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